Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday's Parsha Tidbits - Parshios Behar - Bechukosai

The following is a brief summary of some of the thoughts said over by R' Frand on the parshios this evening. I have attempted to reproduce these vorts to the best of my ability. Any perceived inconsistency is the result of my efforts to transcribe the shiur and should not be attributed to R' Frand.

In Vayikra 25:19-22, the Torah contemplates an internal conversation that the farmer will have as to what he will eat during the shmitta period in that the crops from the sixth year will have to last through the eighth year. 

The Medrash states that those who keep the shmitta are strong willed. They watch their field lie fallow while they pay taxes without income. And then they watch others harvest the growth of the field in year six. This is great strength.

But the obvious question is, if Hashem has promised the farmer that there will be enough food and the crops from the sixth year will yield triple an ordinary harvest, why are the farmers called strong willed? They already know that they will not starve!

R' Frand gave two answers. The first analyzes the mindset of the farmer. He will have a full silo and will not starve. But he is forced to sit and watch while the growth of the seventh year is taken by anyone who wants it. He is unnerved by the fact that HIS field is deemed hefker or owner less and anyone can reap the crops, without even saying "thank you." While he prides himself on his generosity in that he will give charity to those who need it, this year the farmer does not get to select who will receive the check, nor does he get credit (in his mind) for supporting the less fortunate. The fact that he must sit back and not prevent others from taking from his field makes him "strong willed."

The second answer is also grounded in human nature --- that people quickly forget the good which was previously done for them. Although the farmer did have a yield 3x the norm in year six, he has already forgotten how bountiful it was and it pains him that others are now harvesting from the field which he pays taxes on.

R' Frand finished this vort with a parable. A man experiences severe tooth pain on Shabbos. Immediately after Shabbos, the man calls the dentist who tells him, why not come in tonight. The man comes to the dentist and after about an hour in the chair, he feels relief from the pain. The man then asks the dentist, what do I owe you? The dentist responds -- half of what you were going to pay me before. When you were in pain you would have paid anything to escape it. Now that you are no longer in pain, think back about what you would have been willing to pay and divide it in half. That's all I am asking you to pay.

The farmer says to himself, yes I did have a great harvest in year six. But that was then. What has been done for me lately? He needs to remember what he felt previously and those of great strength and character will do so and allow for their fields to be harvested by others.

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